FLAC (the Free Legal Advice Centres) is a human rights organisation which exists to promote equal access to justice for all. FLAC’s vision is of a society where everyone can access fair and accountable mechanisms to vindicate their rights.
FLAC was established in 1969 to bring free legal advice in the absence of a State system of civil legal aid. FLAC has since evolved into a national organisation that uses a variety of different approaches in the pursuit of access to justice and the use of law in the public interest. Each of FLAC’s three core activities – advice and information, analysis, and advocacy – is a powerful tool in its own right, but it is in combining them that biggest impact is made.
FLAC equips over 27,000 people annually with free legal information and advice through its confidential telephone information line and network of legal advice centres. FLAC operates 81 advice centres across Ireland, some run with the active cooperation and involvement of Citizens Information Centres. FLAC has established specialist language centres such as those based in the National Association of Deaf People (now DeafHear) and Conradh na Gaeilge, as well as centres dealing specifically with family law, employment law, LGBT matters and immigration law queries. FLAC also provides online legal information through its website. The delivery of information and advice services keeps FLAC connected to people on the ground and the issues that they are facing, which informs all of FLAC’s other work.
When it becomes evident that the law itself is not fair or reflective of the realities of the world we live in today, FLAC advocates for changes to the law – or changes to the way the law is applied – through analysis and campaigns. FLAC conducts in-depth research and campaigns on a number priority areas, mostly concentrating on State-funded civil legal aid, social welfare law, personal debt and consumer credit reform, and public interest law.
As an Independent Law Centre, FLAC uses strategic litigation in the public interest by taking a small number of cases each year, which it hopes will not only benefit the individual client, but test and possibly change the law or practice for the benefit of others as well. Indeed, FLAC established the PILA (Public Interest Law Alliance) project to further the use of public interest law in this way by the wider NGO and legal community. PILA operates a Pro Bono Referral Scheme that matches the unmet legal need of NGOs with the free legal expertise of law firms, solicitors and barristers.
You can find out more details about how to contact FLAC, including its Information & Referral Line, here on its website.